Saturday, 25 May 2013

When does planning become counter-productive?

We all know that planning is essential ... it allows us to create structure and efficiency. We plan at various levels - from detailed production or marketing plans for our company to personal ToDo lists.

However, the other day I felt my own ToDo list was so long that it was starting to make me unproductive - because I knew I had to get to items on the bottom of the list but the urgent ones on top stopped me from doing so.  It started to irritate me ... and then to annoy.  My planning was getting in the way.

Then I got to thinking whether it is the same for more formal planning - the kind of planning we do at departmental or organisational level. Can these get so complex and complicated that they start to become unproductive?   If so, what is the answer. Does this only happen when we are under-resourced ... or is it a fault in execution?  Should we rely more on intuition? ... or improve our planning?

Saturday, 18 May 2013

How much do the figures matter?

The UK looks to be doing a little better than most people thought. Rather than contracting - and leading the UK into a further recession - growth has been positive, based on improved service sector activity.

Is this a good sign?  Well, its probably better than the alternative ... but reading too much into short term results is dangerous.

Wait and see is probably the best advice.  If things continue to go well for the next few months (at least two quarters), we can breathe a sigh of relief. In the meantime, we ait.

So the figures do matter - but not always the  figure (singular) - unless it tells us a real 'story'.  This is true of all performance indicators - they point somewhere but until we see a few consecutive results, the direction is not always clear.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

It might cost ... but...

Small businesses often use 'involuntary IT mangers' (IITMs) .... non-technical, untrained staff who, by accident or through organisational prompting, take on the role of managing IT operations.According to a recent small business survey commissioned by Microsoft, this costs the US about $24 billion in lost productivity, largely because these staff are taken away from their 'real' jobs.

This just reminded me of the old adage... "If you think training is expensive, consider the costs of not training".

Saturday, 4 May 2013


'Bring Your Own Device' is the term given to the situation where companies allow staff to take in their own smartphone or tablet and have it connected to company networks and data sources.

What does this do for productivity?

Well, I dont think we have enough evidence yet to suggest this is a help or a hindrance.

Clearly there is quite a bit of work to do by the IT department to ensure all devices  (or at least all major operaring systems) can work .. and that security can be maintained.  However, much of that work overlaps with the work they would have to do to provide security on 'company-owned' devices.

For staff, it means they get to stick with a device - and a user interface - with which they are familiar.... but possibly means they get little training or support from the company.

Perhaps the question about productivity is not one we should be asking ... the situation exists ... it seems that staff do want to use their own devices ... let's just work out the best and safest way in which we can meet their needs.